Building a society of second chances, a society beyond labels.


There were delectable prawn hors d’oeuvres, perfectly-plated sandwich nibbles and savoury-sauced tofu cubes when Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) and Nanyang Polytechnic’s Asian Culinary Institute (NYP-ACI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding this past week (Nov 22). Appropriately, ex-offenders were the ones who prepared and served these tastebud-tingling morsels since the Memorandum is about improving their career prospects in the food services industry.    

“I look forward to more employer partners stepping forward to embrace inclusive hiring practices and harness the talents of these trainees. The government will continue to support enterprises in hiring ex-offenders through schemes such as the Uplifting Employment Credit (UEC),” posted Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling after the signing (Nov 25). 

It is definitely needed too. Ex-offenders still face discrimination from employers when applying for jobs, even though having a job would reduce the rate of reoffending. A stable income lets ex-offenders provide for their loved ones, and reintegrate into Singapore society. It is a win-win for everyone. 

The PAP Government understands this. MOS Low’s call to action for employers is part of an ongoing effort to include ex-offenders into the more accepting Singapore we wish to see.        

Jobs, education and medical care

Our MPs have consistently pushed for greater support towards ex-offenders as well. 

As a fierce advocate for workers, MP Patrick Tay (Pioneer SMC) included the Yellow Ribbon community in his labour dialogues and major sharing sessions earlier this year (Jan 13). In a Lianhe Zaobao op-ed  “竭尽全力,帮助失足人群 ——职总的愿景”, he also highlighted the Labour movement’s effort with YRSG and industry partners to re-integrate ex-offenders back into the workforce. As he shared in a recent social media post, the recent graduation of a group of ex-offenders with new digital skills certificates (Sept 30) attests to how career opportunities in exciting sectors can be possible regardless of one’s past. 

Source: Patrick Tay / Facebook 

MP Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok SMC) values education for offenders, knowing it facilitates meaningful post-release careers and distance from past crimes. He has spoken up repeatedly in Parliament on this matter.  Just earlier this year (Jan 2), he posted about asking the Minister for Home Affairs how many inmates had taken up a business diploma and a logistics management degree while in prison, and nudged for increasing the number of courses offered.   

And MP Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) wants to make sure that ex-offenders can get their medical needs met just like other residents. He highlighted one resident’s difficulties accessing appointments and medications cross-island post-release. This led the Ministry of Home Affairs to coordinate follow-ups nearer released individuals’ homes.

Source: Murali Pillai, Tan Wu Meng / Facebook 

Rebuilding one’s life is not easy, especially with a stigma about having been in jail. For the many who want to get back on their feet, the PAP Government and our MPs are there to help — because at the end of the day, we’re all Singaporeans in this together.